A year had passed since I moved across the street from Enterprise Library. I was yet to step inside. On days when the walls of my one-bedroom were closing in, I'd lug my pack a little farther down the street to Starbucks and slide my 17" MacBook Pro onto a faux marble tabletop. Perched on an uncomfortably low-backed chair, I'd pop in my earbuds and listen to nothing. Their purpose was two-fold: dull the rambling jazz pouring out the speakers and give me a feeling of focus. Earbuds in meant down to business. It was my signal to people who never approached me not to start now. I had important writing stuff to take care of on my ridiculously big laptop, while sneaking nosy glances at patrons. One thing Vegas sure was good for~ people watching.
"I'm gonna do a workout then go to the library."
Jimmy looked up at me from behind his MacBook Air (which made my laptop feel like a cruise ship anchor), "Can I walk with you when you go?" My eyes tellingly darted to the left.
"Sure," I stammered.
"Or not," he smirked, reading my side glance.
"Of course, of course," I overcompensated, "I'm happy to have the company."
Truth be told, he was the inspiration for my outing. I needed space. And, I wasn't going to the library. The library was my cover. Starbucks, my destination. I didn't want to tell him I'd be paying for yet another iced green tea with my book money. The money I'd made from selling my car.
Maybe the library is really cool and I've been missing out this whole time. I mentally scolded myself, while we swam through the heat waves wafting off the pavement. Crushed glass and eclectic metal bits lined the curb. It was midday in the Vegas summer so the brick-walled building was, at the very least, a source of AC. Brisk air washed over us as we entered the land of books. It was open, and inviting, with groupings of upholstered chairs, big tables and single desks with three-sided dividers that formed cozy cubbies. I made my way to the tables at the back and set up shop amidst the company of other library goers. To my surprise, people actually used the library, and now I was one of them.
Every time I unzipped my bag or opened my water bottle, I felt the reverberating echo scratch my bones. It was weird being around so many people in such deafening silence. I watched a woman talk to her friend in a tone so low she might as well have been miming. Why did my backpack have the loudest zipper in place?!
I wanted to fit in here, but wasn't quite convinced I could survive the sterile silence. So I plucked an intriguing title from the shelf, checked out and headed to the in-house art gallery. Vibrant acrylic busts of King Tut and Nefertiti appeared to float off their black canvas backgrounds. I lost myself in the nebulous wisps and stars of a deep dimensional galaxy. I sat on the cushioned bench and absorbed the pulsing beat seeping through the walls from the DJ Sound Studio. Pretty hip for the library. Even the checkout was computerized now. Very 2017. It was cool, and totally free. I could sit in a soft chair where my feet touched the ground. Enjoy free Wi-Fi. Download audiobooks, stream video, read, write and check out books for a whole month! No need to dump my dollars on Amazon anymore. The library had so much to offer.
It was too right.
I wanted to hear the incessant grating of the baristas scooping ice. Take in the warmth of the afternoon sun penetrating the windows in my favorite spot. Judge the guy with the Risky Business sunglasses who seemed exceptionally nice, but always came alone and never brought anything with him. I wanted the option to buy $18 snacks and fake-listen to my earbuds. My backpack zipper was inaudible amongst the zoo of coffee shop sounds. I felt sexier at Starbucks.
I stepped back out into the heat with a new appreciation of the library. Then headed to Starbucks to write this blog.